Governor Beshear advocates for cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WYMT/WKYT) - Gov. Andy Beshear joined a group of lawmakers to push for a cap on out-of-pocket costs for many Kentuckians relying on insulin.

Governor Andy Beshear // Facebook

The bill has cleared a House committee and awaits action in the full House.

House Bill 12 would limit out-of-pocket costs at $100 per prescription for a 30-day insulin supply. That cap would apply to people with commercial health insurance plans.

More than 500,000 Kentuckians are diagnosed with diabetes. Beshear said companies pay $2 to $7 to manufacture one vial, but some Kentuckians pay more than $1,000 a month to keep themselves alive.

“Health care is a human right, but tragically right now there are far too many Kentuckians who are at risk of losing their life or permanently damaging their health because they cannot afford their daily supply of insulin,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “This is unacceptable and dangerous and lawmakers can act by immediately passing legislation to help thousands of fellow Kentuckians. Let’s let Kentucky be one of the first to act. We need to cap insulin costs because it’s the right thing to do.”

Beshear calls it a health epidemic. The bill's supporters say some people cannot afford insulin or ration supplies because of costs.

“I pre-filed this bill in June because I know firsthand the struggle diabetics face,” said Rep. Danny Bentley of Russell. “We have made big strides in our work to make quality health care more accessible, particularly with the passage of Kevin’s Law last session. However, we still have a great deal left to accomplish. As a diabetic and a pharmacist, I am appalled that a pharmaceutical company expects individuals to pay hundreds of dollars for insulin when it costs just a small fraction of that to manufacture. I think we have to recognize that there is a difference between making a profit and exploiting a great need.”

“I remember how terrified I felt when I learned that my son, Alex, had Type 1 diabetes just 19 months after he was born,” Rep. Patti Minter of Bowling Green said. “This bill will save lives. Let’s pass House Bill 12 to lower the cost of insulin and protect all Kentuckians who live with diabetes.”

Sister station WKYT talked to Insulin4All Chapter Leader Sarah Ferguson, who was in the courtroom when then-Attorney General Andy Beshear sued three insulin makers for their prices.

"I heard the lawyers for the insulin manufacturers say they raise the prices because they can. There's no law against that," said Ferguson.

Ferguson pointed out there are some flaws in the legislation.

"A co-pay cap means it's for somebody with insurance, first of all," she said. "And it's also limited in the type of insurance. It's only for insurance that's state-regulated."

Another bill under consideration, House Bill 249, is for insulin price transparency.

"It would make the manufacturers, insurers and pharmacy managers file forms every year and explain what's going on," Ferguson said.

A third bill, Senate Bill 23, would make manufacturers pay a fee to a pool that would be used by the uninsured.